Beatport and Circus Recordings have revealed the first winner in the Beats In School producer contest series.

After narrowing the entries down to 20 standout finalists, Circus boss and renowned tastemaker Yousef selected 28-year-old producer Taya Mills as the winner. As part of the big prize, Yousef and the Circus family will accelerate Taya’s career with a coveted year-long label mentorship.

“I’m looking forward to pooling our resources to help get Taya more exposure,Yousef says.

“He is skilled, makes great tunes and has a really positive energy. I thought he could be a  great asset to Circus and a friend to me and all our team.”

A favourite fixture in his hometown of Byron Bay, Australia, Taya has a deep passion for house and techno. Raised in an actual circus (this is the contest he was born to win) by rave-loving parents, he started out making music as a young teen, honing his current sound during a stint in Berlin.

Now dividing his time between Byron and the growing electronic music scene in Bali, Indonesia, Taya continues to make waves as a producer and DJ.

“I look up to Yousef and I believe being mentored by him will allow me to reach my full potential,” Taya says. “Touring the world sharing my music has been my dream since I was nine, and it’s becoming closer and closer to my reality.”

In addition to the Circus Recordings mentorship, Taya’s Beats In School prize includes hands-on support from Beatport and its partners (in collaboration with the Association for Electronic Music), training from Point Blank Music School, and coordinated press and social media support. As part of the Hardware Homework initiative, each winner will also work closely with specialists from leading brands including Serato, Roland, Pioneer DJ, Native Instruments and many more. Additional prizes come from Adam Audio, Urbanears, iZotope, Native Instruments, Landr and Roland Cloud.

With Circus finding its winner, Beats In School is moving into phase two. The next winner lands a coveted year-long mentorship with Anjunabeats, the label owned and A&R’ed by trance icons Above & Beyond. A full announcement is coming soon.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and your style as a DJ and producer?

My upbringing was quite colourful, to say the least. I was born in a circus, brought up in a subtropical rainforest and for the first years of school, my uniform was a tie-dyed t-shirt. When I was just a baby, my parents would take me to bush raves all rugged up in my cot with little fluffy earmuffs on. So you can understand what started off my passion.

For most of high school, I played in a number of bands but it was actually when I was 12 that I started producing electronic music on a copy of Fruity Loops that I got out of a cereal box. And when I was about 15, I decided to give up the bands and circus and fully focus on my career as a full-time electronic music producer.

I started off writing progressive psytrance on Fruity Loops, then moved to Cubase, then Logic.
I got bored with the psy sound when I was about 21 and gave the production a break for two years. When I decided I couldn’t live without it, but I wanted to evolve as a producer, I moved to Berlin, where I discovered that smooth 4/4 Berlin techno sound. That’s also where I got a copy of Ableton Live and Native Instruments’ Maschine. And there was no turning back!

I’d found my passion for electronic music again and was serious about making a career out of it, so I invested my money into the Point Blank Music Production Master Diploma. From then on, I have been living and breathing my music and constantly staying open to inspiration.

The deep driving progressive sound has always stuck with me through my productions. I was influenced by the rave sound and still am to this day, but that has now evolved into a more funky, deep tech vibe. I’ve always been told that I have a very unique sound that has helped me to stay on my true path in the industry, allowing me to keep my original sound rather than taking on other producers’ styles.

What inspired you to enter the Beats In School and Circus Recordings contest?

I was actually unaware of the Beats in School competition until five days prior to the entry deadline. As soon as I found out, I knew I had to be a part of it, as Circus Recordings has major interest for me given everything it represents.

As a streak of inspiration hit me, I quickly jumped onto my Maschine studio and started laying out a beat to submit. It came very suddenly and I could not stop the flow. Beyond my love for Circus Recordings, I am also driven to follow my dreams. This gave me the drive to enter no matter what the outcome, just believing it had come my way for a reason.

What are you hoping to learn from your mentorship with Circus? How would you like to improve as a producer?

No matter what level you’re at as a producer – whether it’s beginner or advanced – I believe there is always something to be learnt from collaborating with other artists. Given the opportunity to be mentored by Yousef, I’m hoping to take on the things I am yet to learn and incorporate those into my own compositions. This opportunity will allow me to progress as an artist. I’m a perfectionist as it is, and I’m always seeking the ‘polished’ sound. I look up to Yousef as an artist and I believe being mentored by him will allow me to grow and reach my full potential.

Where would you like to be as an artist five years from now?

Five years from now, given the recent opportunities ahead of me, I have no doubt that my career will be in full force, allowing me to tour the world sharing my music, in a place where I can well and truly support myself doing what I love and sharing it with others. This has been my dream since I was nine, and it’s becoming closer and closer to my reality.

Find out more about Beats In School: http://beatport.com/beatsinschool

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About the author

For the last 20+ years, Damion has been an international touring DJ, promoter, touring agent, label owner, magazine editor and producer. He is currently the Group Editor and Managing Director of Decoded Magazine. Hear more at https://soundcloud.com/damionpell-1

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